Friday, June 30, 2023

4th of July

 By Kelly Bridgewater

I do enjoy the fourth of July holiday.

I am proud to be an American citizen.

I love watching fireworks.

I love having a cookout with burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, watermelon, and other fruits.

I love spending time with my family.

I love not working.

I love celebrating my American freedom.

What do you treasure most about the fourth of July celebration?

Monday, June 26, 2023

Colleen Coble: Break of Day

By Kelly Bridgewater

Annie Pederson’s happily ever after is finally within sight . . . if she can stay alive long enough to grasp it.

Law enforcement officer Annie Pederson’s life has been rocked by tragedy, but things finally seem to be heading in the right direction. Her relationship with the love of her life—who’s also the biological father of her precious daughter—has never been better, and it looks like an engagement ring is in Annie’s future. She’s also slowly building back trust with her sister, Sarah, after a separation that has lasted for decades.

When a man escapes law enforcement custody and Sarah’s safety is suddenly in question, Annie’s personal and professional lives once again merge. Meanwhile, her investigation of hikers who have gone missing in the remote woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula puts her in the crosshairs of a deadly game.

Now, Annie is the one being hunted. When she discovers the terrible truth about the men who are stalking her, she realizes that she’s in for the fight of her life if she’s going to redeem the sister she once lost, build the family she dreams of, and keep all those she loves safe.

Return to the beloved town of Rock Harbor in the final installment of the Annie Pederson trilogy by bestselling suspense author Colleen Coble.


My Thoughts:

Break of Day by Colleen Coble returns to Rock Harbor and the story saga of Annie Pederson. Since Annie has been the heroine for the previous two books, she felt like an old friend to catch up with. It was nice to see some good things happen to her. Of course, there are struggles that she must overcome. Her sister, Sara, has a commanding role in this story. Nicely developed characters. As for the plot, the climactic moment has been done in Criminal Minds, I believe. I know that I have seen it on one of those crime shows. The concept was not original, but the how the moment ended was different than the television series, and I enjoyed that aspect  of it. It was nicely paced and full of action. I kept flipping through the pages. As for the romance, Annie comes closer to having her happily-ever-after moment. In this plot, Annie’s daughter, Kylie conveniently goes away with some friends for the week. It was nice because Annie needed to focus on her budding relationship and what that means for the future instead of worrying about what would happen to her daughter. Overall, Break of Day by Colleen Coble is a good conclusion to the series, and I wonder what Coble will come up with next.

I received a complimentary copy of Break of Day by Colleen Coble from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Break of Day

Friday, June 23, 2023

Vacation Plans

By Kelly Bridgewater

 Have you ever taken a vacation because of a novel that you were researching so you could write it?

I have not.

I know plenty of authors that have planned vacations to England or an island where their stories take place.

With a limited income, barely above poverty, I do not have that luxury. We have no debt, but I can not do that.

We were really excited in October 2021 to spend a week in a cabin on a lake. It was fishing and seeing the Lake Michigan. Board Games. Television. Cooking food on the grill.

I would love to take a research trip to England and / or Germany to research some of the places that my World War II novel takes place.

It would help bring my stories to life instead of just researching through the internet and books.


How about you? Ever taken a vacation to research for your writing? If so, where have you gone? 

Monday, June 19, 2023

Rachel Hauck: The Best Summer of Our Lives

By Kelly Bridgewater

Summer Wilde is a wannabe country music star. But when her latest girl band abandons her in a motel outside Tulsa, she is forced to face the shadows of her past. Twenty years ago, the summer of '77 was supposed to be the best summer of her life. She and her best friends, Spring, Autumn, and Snow--the Four Seasons, 4ever--had big plans.

But those plans never had a chance. After a teenage prank gone awry, the Seasons found themselves on a bus to Tumbleweed, "Nowhere," Oklahoma, to spend eight weeks as camp counselors. Arriving with hidden secrets and buried fears, those two months changed their friendships and the course of their lives.

Now, thirty-something and with no direction for her future, Summer is at a crossroads. Returning to the place where everything changed, she soon learns Tumbleweed is more than a town she left and never wanted to see again. It's the place for healing, for reconciling the past with the present, and for finally listening to love's voice.

Celebrating the songs of our hearts, the joys of love, and the threads of friendship that tie us all together, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hauck's radiant story perfectly captures all the romance, heartache, and hope of the best summer ever.


My Thoughts:

The Best Summer of Our Lives by Rachel Hauck felt a lot like Now and Then, the movie. Four teenage girls that were best friends, but then one summer, everything fell apart. The story takes place in 1977 and 1997. As a reader, we see the summer of ’77 and learn from each girl what happened that summer and how they dealt with it. The characters were realistic and hurting. I did enjoy how well Hauck dived into the characters and their personal tragedies. Each character stood apart from the next teenager. I loved how they had a common path, but when the reality came, they wanted different paths. I went to summer camp one summer, so I vaguely remember that experience. It was not life changing for me. It was the summer after 4th grade at a local church camp. The plot moved along nicely, but at times, I really wanted to know what was the issue that shoved them apart, so it took Hauck a while to dive into that aspect of the novel. I know she probably did that on purpose. A way to string the readers along and keep the tension tight throughout the entire story. Hauck does a good job at creating the mystical, yet spiritual element into majority of her stories lately. I enjoyed the Preacher aspect and how he affected Summer. I would like to know, personally, how Preacher affected her since the summer of ’77. Overall, The Best Summer of Our Lives by Rachel Hauck had great characterization, but the plot was not the greatest or best written story by Hauck. I have loved majority of her books.

I received a complimentary copy of The Best Summer of Our Lives by Rachel Hauck from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Best Summer of Our Lives

Friday, June 16, 2023

Welcome Boring Summer!

By Kelly Bridgewater

Here is a quick post to welcome summer!

If you love weeds, bugs, heat, and nothing to do but try to tame your yard and weeds, then have a great never-ending time with summer.

As for me, I will mow grass and then return to my air-conditioned home where I pray for summer to hurry up and finish so Fall and Winter and come.

Enjoy your Summer! Make good memories! 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Katherine Reay: A Shadow in Moscow

By Kelly Bridgewater

A betrayal at the highest level risks the lives of two courageous female spies: MI6’s best Soviet spy and the CIA’s newest Moscow recruit. As the KGB closes in, a compromise must be struck if either woman hopes to survive.

Vienna, 1954

After losing everyone she loves in the final days of World War II, Ingrid Bauer agrees to a hasty marriage with a gentle Soviet embassy worker and follows him home to Moscow. But nothing deep within the Soviet Union’s totalitarian regime is what it seems, including her new husband, whom Ingrid suspects works for the KGB. Upon her daughter’s birth, Ingrid risks everything and reaches out in hope to the one country she understands and trusts—Britain, the country of her mother’s birth—and starts passing along intelligence to MI6, navigating a world of secrets and lies, light and shadow.

Washington, DC, 1980

Part of the Foreign Studies Initiative, Anya Kadinova finishes her degree at Georgetown University and boards her flight home to Moscow, leaving behind the man she loves and a country she’s grown to respect. Though raised by dedicated and loyal Soviet parents, Anya soon questions an increasingly oppressive and paranoid Soviet regime at the height of the Cold War. When the KGB murders her best friend, Anya picks sides and contacts the CIA. Working in a military research lab, Anya passes along Soviet military plans and schematics in an effort to end the 1980s arms race.

Alternating points of view keep readers on their toes as the past catches up to the present when an unprecedented act of treachery in 1985 threatens all undercover agents operating within the Soviet Union, and both Ingrid and Anya find themselves in a race for their lives against time and the KGB.


My Thoughts:

A Shadow of Moscow by Katherine Reay has a synopsis of a Cold War Spy Novel. I enjoy a good spy novel, especially during World War II. However, Reay’s novel does have those elements of a Russian spy with hints of the Nazi Regime that started during World War II. Actually the novel does have a timeline of 1944 with the Nazi’s in it. Some issues with the writing are a lot of telling, not showing. I feel like I was being told a lot of information in information dumps throughout the first 50 percent of the novel. There was a little bit of movement sprinkled in between, but nothing really that important to the idea of the plot. Ingrid, as a character, was really flat. She seemed to have no personality and just moved through the directions and a little bit of discussion. Anya, on the other hand, may be a little more developed, but she seems a little boring too. Both characters are worried about their heritage, but I do not sense a sense of urgency in both characters. If I had the KGB coming after me for something that mother had done in the past, I believe I would be a little more scared. Anya did not have that feeling. Since this a split-time story, I wanted to read more like a story. Overall, A Shadow of Moscow by Katherine Reay did not really capture my attention. With the synopsis, it could have been an interesting story, but I felt like Reay did not deliver what she promised.

I received a complimentary copy of The Shadow of Moscow by Katherine Reay from Harper Muse Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Purchase A Shadow of Moscow

Friday, June 9, 2023

Rachel Hauck’s Wedding Series Spotlight

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Since June is traditionally a wedding month, I thought I would feature a Wedding Dress series that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Have you read Rachel Hauck’s Wedding Dress series? If not, here is the covers and the links to their synopsis: (All images and links come from Goodreads).

The Wedding Dress


The Wedding Chapel


The Wedding Shop


The Wedding Dress Christmas


The Writing Desk (Not officially part of the series, but does feature the same characters.)


All of these stories are fabulous written with heart, depth to the characters, and a happily-ever-after. My favorite one is The Writing Desk. I have read it three times, and still am amazed at what a gifted storyteller that Rachel Hauck is. I love how Hauck always draws the characters and reader to God. She is definitely a wonderful storyteller with this element. 

How about you? If you enjoyed these stories, what did you like about them? If you have not read these, do they sound interesting? Why or why not?

Monday, June 5, 2023

Karen Witemeyer: Fairest of Heart

By Kelly Bridgewater

Once upon a time in Texas . . .

Beauty has been nothing but a curse to Penelope Snow. When she becomes a personal maid for a famous actress whose troupe is leaving Chicago to tour the West, she hides her figure beneath shapeless dresses and keeps her head down. But she still manages to attract the wrong attention, leaving her prospects in tatters--and her jealous mistress plotting her demise.

After his brother lost his life over a woman, Texas Ranger Titus Kingsley has learned to expect the worst from women and is rarely disappointed. So when a young lady found in suspicious circumstances takes up residence with the seven old drovers living at his grandfather's ranch, Titus is determined to keep a close eye on her.

With a promotion hanging in the balance, Titus is assigned to investigate a robbery case tied to Penelope's acting troupe, and all evidence points to Penelope's guilt. But Titus might just be convinced that the fairest woman of all has a heart as pure as her last name . . . if only he can prove it.


My Thoughts:

Fairest of Heart by Karen Witemeyer is a Snow-White remake set in Texas alongside a traveling theater troupe. Many similarities between the two, but Witemeyer took creative license with her story. With a penniless heroine with a heart of gold, Penelope Snow is a quirky character to follow and enjoy. With determination and strive, Titus is on the hunt for justice and retribution because of an episode that occurred to his brother, Tate, a long time ago. Of course, romance is a must when readers enjoy a Witemeyer novel. Nothing flashy and gushy. A little bit of feelings flying across the page the longer the two are in each other’s presence. Instead of seven dwarves, Witemeyers uses seven old ranchers. Kind of like grandfather figures. They developed a love for her because of how well she treated each individual character. Her sweetness and kind heart won over even the grumpiest old rancher. As for the plot, I liked the idea of an old theater trope crossing the countryside and having a mystery element that showed the horrible character of the villain. Maybe she should have spent more time with her maid, Penelope, and learned some behaviors. Overall, Fairest of Heart by Karen Witemeyer was a nice twist on Snow White, but even if this was not the case, the story was nicely woven together and a delight to read.

I received a complimentary copy of Fairest of Heart by Karen Witemeyer from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Fairest of Heart 

Friday, June 2, 2023

Happily, Ever After: Is it Really Needed?

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Does every story need to end with a marriage or a proposal?

I believe not.

But it does seem like every story whether contemporary romance, romantic suspense, or historical romance must be tied up with the wedding scene or a proposal between the heroine and the hero.

It is good if you are looking forward to that type of ending.

But not me.

It never rings true to me.

The characters may have been thrown in a death defying moment or running from a killer, but do they have to be married or engaged by the end of the story?

I enjoy stories, like television series or movies, that end in a cliffhanger. Not that many novels do that.

There has been a couple of series like David James Warren’s Remembrandt Stone’s series and Terri Blackstock’s If I Run series that have been left in a cliffhanger. Definitely enjoyed these stories.

I want more of these stories.

How about you? Or do you enjoy the predictable and unoriginal happy moment at the end of your stories? Why do you?